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Deloitte and African Accounting

Akintola Williams founded the Deloitte predecessor firm Akintola Williams & Co. in 1952 in Lagos, Nigeria. Williams’ efforts, as well as those of another visionary in Africa, Howard Pim, helped put Africa on the map in the accounting world. Their legacies live on in Deloitte Africa.

Akintola Williams, the founder of Deloitte predecessor firm Akintola Williams & Co., had a career of firsts. Williams, the son of a British colonial clerk, left his native Nigeria in 1944 to study banking and finance in London and became the first Nigerian to qualify as a chartered accountant in the UK. He returned to Nigeria in 1950 and worked briefly in the British civil service before establishing Nigeria’s first indigenous firm of chartered accountants in Lagos in 1952.

After Nigeria was granted independence in 1960, the country began making significant investments in its infrastructure and industry, paving the way for Akintola Williams & Co. to forge relationships with powerful clients in insurance, utilities, railways and ports.

The practice expanded outside Nigeria into Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Swaziland, Ghana, Egypt and Kenya. Around the turn of the 21st century, Deloitte recognised that Akintola Williams & Co.’s institutional knowledge and deep roots had significant value and the Nigerian firm became Akintola Williams Deloitte in 2004.

Beyond Akintola Williams & Co., Deloitte’s African connections date back to the 19th century. The original London-based firm first made inroads in South Africa in 1888. Another Deloitte predecessor and major South African firm, Howard Pim, was launched in 1893. Pim began his career as joint auditor for a leading diamond mining company, helping him acquire clients in mining and business and setting his firm up for a century of growth. While Howard Pim & Hardy became a bedrock of South African accounting, Deloitte rapidly expanded across Africa in the 20th century, opening offices in South Africa, modern-day Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda. Pim’s firm, now known as Pim Goldby, merged with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in 1990.

These firms and their leaders helped establish the accounting profession in Africa. In the 1940s, Williams had to pursue training overseas, but today’s Nigerian students work under mentors and get a hands-on management education at Deloitte Nigeria’s Young Impact Makers Programme. Recognised by Great Places to Work as Nigeria’s best company to work for in 2019, Deloitte Africa continues to have a positive impact in Nigerian communities and across the African continent, with 27 offices in 17 countries.

Pim’s views on the role of an auditor would find much acclaim in the modern world. . . . He believed firmly that every man had a bounden duty to serve his community and society at large, and became actively involved in countless activities to improve and enrich the lives of individuals and groups within it.

- Hendrina Westoll, Of Ledgers and Legends: The Story of Deloitte South Africa